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Dec 21, 2015

Stevedores given a Christmas Bukut, Says CWU President

On Friday, in the wake of a four-day strike by stevedores at the Port of Belize in the Old Capital which brought operations at a standstill, the Ministry of Labor signed a statutory instrument making stevedoring an essential service. It means that stevedores can no longer strike without giving a twenty-one day notice. The move taken by the Government is seen as a blunt reaction to the shutdown of imports and exports in Belize. It was prompted by Guy Neal of gang seven after negotiations went sour over a pension scheme within a proposed collective bargaining agreement. According to Matura-Shepherd after consultation with the stevedores, they are of the opinion that they were given “the royal Christmas bukut from the government.”


Audrey Matura-Shepherd

Audrey Matura-Shepherd, President, CWU

“It is unfortunate that that is the kind of gift that the government has to give to our poorer workers. CWU negotiates for quite a few entities and I must say the stevedores fall in the group with the least benefits, the poor category—nothing to put them down, but they have the less economic power—at the same times they are also the ones who, unfortunately a lot of them, fall under the category of the less academically qualified. So it is unfortunate that they would pick on the seemingly weakest set to pass such a legislation and to do it without consultation, without advice, without even asking a meeting and to hear then the Mister Tux Vasquez from Port of Belize boast that the Chamber of Commerce had already requested such a legislation. But ironically he is the chairman of the Belize Chamber of Commerce. So this is a typical case where the economic giants come pressing down on the poorer working class. All the other entities that are essential services…let’s look at them: B.E.L., B.T.L., Social Security, BWS. When you look at the workers who give up certain immediate rights under the law because they are essential services, their benefit package; it’s worth, they get great benefits. And put on the other hand, a stevedore, who gets a job on turn once a month and when you work sometimes you work a twenty-four hour shift straight….you only get paid for the actual work you do. If you don’t show up, you don’t get paid. You will never get severance, you will never get notice pay; so many things you never get. There is no CBA to monitor the relations at the whim and fancy. The employer punishes you, makes you lose a turn on the job because there is no CBA and they don’t want a CBA. So there is massive disparity. It’s really unjust. I say unfortunate because politics always plays a critical role in many things in this country. Unfortunate because the stevedores, who I would estimate ninety percent of them are stark supporters of the United Democratic Party, were adamant and convinced that their government would not do anything contrary to their interest without talking to them. It went so far Duane that one of the guys on the negotiating team, Mister Shawn Middleton, took it upon himself to call the Prime Minister and be dialoging with the Prime Minister personally, one on one. That’s how close they are to this government. That’s why I say they got the bukut. So let’s make the record go straight, straight right here. Why would a government under mind the people without finding out what’s behind the scene.”

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3 Responses for “Stevedores given a Christmas Bukut, Says CWU President”

  1. Belizean says:

    Very good move. These people need to learn to work. Kudos to the GOB

  2. Belizean says:

    Whats behind the scene is that ppl want EVERYTHING, FOR FREE, no work for it. The UNIONS kill the productivity of this country! Ban the Unions. Is there any check and balance on the workers if they work under a Union? They know they cant be fired, so why would they give good quality labor??

  3. Jake says:

    And YOU Audrey Matura-Shepherd gave them 4 days less pay for your own personal Christmas bukut and forced the GOB to protect the many from YOUR bad ways.

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